Asylum Magazine (Volume 27 No 4) Winter 2020

As the pandemic continues, our Winter issue opens with a mental health nurse’s reflection on its detrimental impact on his capacity to offer genuine support to service users.

Several other pieces, and poems, are explicitly autobiographical – drawing on experiences of in-patient care, of lockdown, or coming off psychiatric medication.  Two of our articles also discuss the role of fiction.  For example, Nathan Filer reflects on My Dark Vanessa and his own best-selling novel, Shock of the Fall, in the context of debates about authorship, and who has the right to write about what. Meanwhile, Catch 22, by Joseph Heller and Poppy Shakespeare by Clare Allan, prompted Andy Baxter to identify ways the mental health system traps service users.

Asylum was established in 1986, the same year as the Bristol Crisis service for Women, who include a call to help them document their history.  We were originally inspired by Franco Basaglia and the Democratic Psychiatry movement in Italy, the subject of a new book which Vincenzo Passante has reviewed for us.  It is 30 years since the closure of the asylums in Nottingham and Verusca Calabria looks back at their impact, reflecting on the meaning of ‘asylum’ and considering what has been lost.  This theme is picked up on in our interview with Jen Kilyon about her long struggle for a Soteria House in the UK.  Inadequacies of the current system prompted Hayden Knight and Jay Dudley’s calls, for a democratic socialist revolution in mental health, and Dolly Sen’s recent action to ‘section’ the Department of Work and Pensions.

Picking up on themes from our Autumn issue, and hopefully inspiring future contributions, Peter Barham reflects on the relationship between mental health and whiteness and what can be gained by exploring affinities between ‘mad’ lives and ‘black’ lives.  This issue also contains reviews of Beverley Costa’s recent book on psychological therapies in a multilingual wold, and Henry Bladon’s poetry collection. We include, as ever, some powerful and thought-provoking images.  We are always on the lookout for more, so please keep sending them.

Download Volume 27 No 4



Mental health services during the pandemic: a nurse’s perspective – Steve McKenna

Some catches of the mental health system – Andy Baxter  *** Sample article***

“It is what It is” – Lindsey Morrison Grant

Mad Fiction – Nathan Filer *** Sample article***

Coming off Psychiatric Meds – Stuart Bryan

Daylight robbery, but they called it ‘Care in the Community’ – Verusca Calabria

“Eating at Joe’s”: The shared fate of Mad lives and Black lives – Peter Barham *** Sample article ***

Soteria House in Bradford: an interview with Jen Kilyon

A survivor’s proposal for a mental health system without psychiatric labelling – Hayden Knight

More than Labels: A psychologist’s view – Jay Dudley

Book reviews


  • Trieste via Philadelphia House Andrea White
  • Grow Wild Megan Ryle
  • Therapy Chloe Mapes

News: Activist sections the DWP

Sample articles

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